The Politics of Actually Existing Unsustainability: Human Flourishing in a Climate-Changed, Carbon-Constrained World

    Research output: Book/ReportBook

    145 Citations (Scopus)


    Going against both the naive techno-optimist of ‘greening business as usual’ and a resurgent ‘catastrophism’ within green thinking and politics, The Politics of Actually Existing Unsustainability offers an analysis of the causes of unsustainability and diminished human flourishing. The books locates the causes of unsustainability in dominant capitalist modes of production, debt-based consumer culture, the imperative for orthodox economic growth and the dominant ideology of neoclassical economics. It suggests that valuable insights into the causes of and alternatives to unsustainability can be found in a critical embracing of human vulnerability and dependency as both constitutive and ineliminable aspects of what it means to be human. The book defends resilience, the ability to ‘cope with’ rather than somehow ‘solve’ vulnerability. The book offers a trenchant critique of the dominant neoclassical economic ‘groupthink’, viewing it not as some value-neutral form of ‘expert knowledge’, but as a thoroughly ideological ‘common sense’. Outlining a green political economic alternative replacing economic growth with economic security, it argues economic growth has done its work in the minority, affluent world, which should now focus on improving human flourishing, lowering socio-economic equality and fostering solidarity as part of a new re-orientation of public policy. Complementing this, a, ‘green republicanism’ is developed as an innovative and original contribution to contemporary debates on a ‘post-growth’ economy and society. The Politics of Actually Existing Unsustainability draws widely from a range of disciplines and thinkers, from cultural critic Susan Sontag to the critical theory of the Frankfurt School, contemporary debates in green political thinking, and the latest thinking in heterodox and green economics, to produce a highly relevant, timely, and provocatively original statement on the human predicament in the twenty-first century.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherOxford University Press
    Number of pages336
    ISBN (Print)9780199695393
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Sciences(all)


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